As Connecticut’s state legislative session nears its end, the Connecticut Brewers Guild launched a video and petitionurging state lawmakers to pass legislation that will give more craft brewery employees access to affordable health insurance.
The Healthier Craft Brewery Employee Bill (House Bill 7260) would allow for the Connecticut Brewers Guild to create its own pool of members to purchase plans with significant savings when compared to current health insurance rates.
“Now more than ever, health care costs are especially burdensome on small business owners and entrepreneurs as prices continue to skyrocket,” said Phil Pappas, executive director of the Connecticut Brewers Guild. “That’s why passing this bill is a no-brainer. Not only does it allow us to provide an additional benefit to our members, but it also represents a way to care for the hardworking folks who work behind the bar and among stainless steel tanks.”
Pappas also noted that the plan also allows Connecticut’s craft breweries to band together to purchase the types of coverage that are available to large employers, which can be less expensive and better tailored to the needs of their employees.
In the video, Jill Maggi, a brewer at Stamford, Conn.-based Half Full Brewery, noted that passing this legislation is a win-win for the state.
“Craft breweries like ours employ hundreds of full-time workers statewide,” said Maggi. “And state lawmakers can keep that number growing — without spending a dime — by allowing craft breweries to access more affordable health care options for their employees. Because every job that a growing industry like craft beer creates is another opportunity for our state to get ahead.”
The bill currently has 51 co-sponsors, representing more than 25 percent of the state’s legislative branch (151 state representatives and 36 state senators).
Two of the legislative co-sponsors, State Senator Carlo Leone (D) and Representative Patricia Miller (D) — who represent the districts where Half Full Brewery is located in their respective chamber — have said that the Healthier Craft Brewery Bill is a pro-jobs measure that doesn’t cost the state a dime.
“Attracting highly-skilled workers, especially in the manufacturing sector, is important to the future of Stamford and our state,” said Senator Leone, who also has another craft brewery, Lock City Brewery, in his district. “The craft breweries have been ginning up good-paying jobs across the state, and this measure will help the industry grow and thrive well into the future.”
Another co-sponsor of the bill, State Representative Jesse MacLachlan — who represents a district that includes Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook — said that he backs the bill because it’s good for both employers and employees.
“When it comes to our state’s job-creating craft breweries, we want brewers to be brewing great-tasting local beer, not worrying about another cost that goes into running a business,” said Representative MacLachlan. “Allowing the Connecticut Brewers Guild to offer a high-quality, affordable health insurance plan for its members — which doesn’t cost the state a dime — is good for both local craft brewery owners and employees. That’s a win-win for Connecticut.”
In March 2019, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee voted 16-3 in favor of the bill.
Following the Insurance and Real Estate Committee passing the bill, State Representative Chris Rosario — who represents Bridgeport — said that clearing that first hurdle is critical in the passage of a measure, especially one that is so important to brewery employees and their families.
“Running a small business offers its own unique headaches,” said Rosario. “That’s what makes this legislation so important. Offering affordable health care plans to small- and mid-sized businesses, especially in this growing industry, is a big win for our state.”
Next, in the legislative process for this bill, H.B. 7260, is a full vote by the Connecticut House of Representatives. If the bill can pass both legislative chambers, it will be sent to Governor Ned Lamont for approval.